Talk about local hotspots!
Red Hook’s free public wifi network is expanding to the nabe’s commercial corridors, and the community group in charge is looking for local businesses to house the necessary gadgets to beam the broadband around. Those who sign up won’t just be helping to spread the signal, says an organizer — they’ll also be doing their part to spread goodwill in the tight-knit community of mom and pop shops.
“Red Hook is very special community in the sense that if you have a business, you’re making a commitment to the neighborhood,” said Anthony Schloss, who is the director of initiatives at the Red Hook Initiative. “This isn’t Midtown, this isn’t Smith Street — it’s Red Hook.”
The group first wired up most of the neighborhood’s parks and community centers after Hurricane Sandy drowned the local grid and left many without power and internet for weeks, but the group is aiming to eventually blanket the entire neighborhood, and has now set its sights on Red Hook’s retail rows, including Van Brunt, Lorraine, Clinton, and Conover streets.
To extend the information superhighway to these stretches, the initiative needs around 50 local businesses willing to host routers and radios — including 15 also able to mount a solar panel on their roof to ensure the system doesn’t get washed out by another natural disaster.
“In the event of power loss, the network would shrink but certain locations will stay working,” said Schloss.
The group has already recruited 10 businesses, and at least one early adopter says signing up was a no-brainer after her company was stuck offline during the super storm.
“It’s really important because Red Hook suffered tremendously during the hurricane,” said Kristina Iulo, the design director of commercial construction company CHS Group on Commerce and Imlay streets. “Most of the neighborhood was out of power, while you could walk to a Carroll Gardens cafe and have internet.”
The hunt kicked off about six weeks ago and the project is expected to be finished by 2018, according to Schloss.
To get involved, business owners can e-mail dabri